Emails supporting SSB 5731 must go out: In support of Washington Specialty Beer/Wine Stores

Emails supporting SSB 5731 must go out: In support of Washington Specialty Beer/Wine Stores

This Tuesday is the deadline for bills to get through the Senate, so we must act fast. Please send the two emails below by Sunday, FEBRUARY 16th (Monday at the latest).

Once a bill passes out of the Rules Committee, it goes to the Floor Leader (Senator Joe Fain) who will decide which bills the Senate will vote on. It’s crucial that we contact Senator Fain to get our bill scheduled.

Get as many people as you can to email — friends, family, customers, employees, etc.

Email to Senator Joe Fain — ASAP

Subject: Please put SSB 5731 on the calendar
Text: Dear, Senator Fain. Thank you for co-sponsoring SSB 5731. I shop at small beer/wine specialty shops, and fully support this bill. I would be grateful for your continued support by placing 5731 on the calendar. [YOUR PERSONAL MESSAGE]. Sincerely, [YOUR NAME, BUSINESS NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE]

Note: You can also call Senator Fain at 360-786-7692.

Email to send to the Senate — ASAP

To:,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, steve.o’,,,,,,,,,,
Subject: In support of SSB 5731

Text: Dear, Senators. I shop at small beer/wine specialty shops, and I fully support SSB 5731, the bill allowing beer/wine specialty shops to sell spirits made by small distilleries. I would be grateful for your support by voting for 5731. [YOUR PERSONAL MESSAGE]. Sincerely, [YOUR NAME, BUSINESS NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE]

Washington State Seal

SSB 5731 would allow Specialty Wine/Beer Stores to sell craft distilled spirits.

Background: A beer and/or wine specialty shop license permits a vendor to sell beer and wine at retail in original containers for consumption off premises. The annual license fee is $100 per store. Specialty shop licensees may conduct sampling, and if they meet certain conditions can sell beer to a purchaser who brings their own container.

With the passage of I-1183 in November 2011, the sale of liquor has become privatized. Retailers with 10,000 square feet of retail space, former liquor stores, or contract liquor stores can obtain a spirits retail license. Retail businesses having less than 10,000 square feet of retail space can obtain a spirits retail license from the Liquor Control Board (LCB) if they are otherwise qualified, if there is not a licensed spirits retailer within the trade area, if the applicant meets operational requirements established by LCB, and if the license applicant has no more than one public safety violation within the preceding three years.

Spirits retail licensees pay an annual license renewal fee of $166 and a license issuance fee of 17 percent of all spirits sale revenue under the license exclusive of taxes. Craft distilleries are exempt from payment of the 17 percent license issuance fee.

Article II, section 41 of the Washington State Constitution provides that an initiative passed by the people may not be amended within the first two years following enactment, except by a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Summary of Bill (Recommended Substitute): Specialty shop licensees that received their license before January 1, 2013, are under 10,000 square feet, exceed 50 percent liquor sales, and carry a minimum of $5,000 in beer or wine inventory can get an endorsement to sell spirits from a craft distiller or a distillery that produces 60,000 gallons or less of spirits per year. A specialty shop licensee with a craft spirits endorsement will pay a license issuance fee of 17 percent of all spirit sales revenue excluding taxes. The specialty shop licensee must provide training for servers. Server training is presumed to be sufficient if it incorporates a responsible vendor program adopted by LCB. Maximum penalties for public safety violations are doubled for sale of spirits by beer and/or wine specialty shop licensees who hold a craft spirits endorsement. This act is effective December 9, 2013.

(Recommended Substitute):
In addition to selling spirits from licensed craft distillers, this endorsement permits a beer and wine specialty shop to sell spirits from licensed distillers that produce 60,000 gallons or less of spirits per year.

Summary of Public Testimony

Persons testifying: Senator Keiser, prime sponsor; Karen Rogers, Michael Cawdry, Beer and Wine Specialty Shops; Steven Lynn, Water to Wine, Morso.

  • Smaller stores are struggling in this economy.
  • Some smaller businesses have gone out of business.
  • This is a convenience for customers.
  • The regulations developed have devalued the specialty retail license.


Persons testifying: Jas Sangha, Darren Smith, Tumwater Liquor and Wine; David Cho, Westgate Liquor; Seth Dawson, WA Assn. for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention.

  • This bill will harm the small businesses.
  • Some of our members have gone bankrupt.
  • This undermines the initiative.
  • Underage drinking is on the rise because of increased access through more retail sellers and thefts.


4 thoughts on “Emails supporting SSB 5731 must go out: In support of Washington Specialty Beer/Wine Stores

  1. My letter—

    Dear Senators,

    Thank you for co-sponsoring SSB 5731. I am a small beer/wine specialty shop owner and fully support this bill. I would be grateful for your continued support by placing 5731 on the calendar.

    In one month the $1.3billion megacorp, Total Wine & More, will be opening just 20 blocks from my store, attempting to claim as many of my customers as possible.

    There is not much I can do to diversify against them, yet I have three years remaining on my location lease and five people to keep employed. Am I nervous? Yes.

    With the privatization of liquor, the State Laws have changed to more greatly support corporatization of alcohol.

    Supply agreements and price breaks are in practice, even though not entirely legal in the beer industry.

    Distributorships are having team meetings and tastings in the private rooms of mega liquor stores.

    Over 60% of the now private, former State liquor stores, have gone out of business, unable to compete. Many of these new owners were looking not to share their knowledge and passion for a product (spirits), and most remaining have diversified so greatly that liquor is no longer their primary top-selling product: hot dogs, lottery tickets, and convenience items are now in their mix. Avoiding this C-Store model, in association with giving those new retailers a fighting chance, is a core reason the 10,000-sq-ft rationale was placed in the privatization law.

    Neighborhood shoppers now are forced into mega chains if they want “a nice place to shop” for Liquors. They are shopping less with specialty beer/wine stores as the logic goes, “Why make two stops when I can make one?”

    Case in point:
    Specialty wine stores like The Wine Alley in Fairwood/Renton in next-door to one of these now “liquor C-stores,” which used to be suited as a dual-stop for neighbors… Now the customers can’t get the selection of higher end Liquors at a good price next door, which has contributed to loss in sales at The Wine Alley, Western Washington’s Best Wine Store (as voted by KING 5 viewers).

    By allowing specialty beer/wine stores to carry craft distilled spirits it would allow small business to pull money back into local communities. It would allow neighbors to once again feel comfortable shopping at “nice neighborhood businesses.”

    By keeping the law as it is, with Specialty Beer/Wine Stores having no ability to diversify into other specialty alcohols, the State is placing death sentences on each of these businesses; within time, it will be all corporate chains, with the bulk of income produced leaving the State, with cookie-cutter impersonal chains making up the bulk of retail business.

    As a specialty beer store owner, my American dream is to provide specialty alcoholic beverages to those who appreciate them.

    It isn’t to change business models into a tavern or C-store to keep my business viable.

    It isn’t to close shop after seven years of successful operation because State Law has given advantage to mega liquor corporations, devaluing the small beer/wine store, granting groceries and chains the same rights — and more!

    Give small business a fighting chance. Allow us to diversify into specialty spirits. Place SSB 5731 on the Senate calendar and vote YES in support of local small business.

    Tiffany Adamowski

    99 Bottles specialty beer store
    35002 Pacific Hwy S A102
    Federal Way, WA 98003

    Sent from Tiffany’s iPhone


    Subject: *** 5731 passed the Senate ***
    Sent: 18 Feb ’14 5:16pm

    Hello, all.

    5731 overwhelmingly passed the Senate, so we’re now moving to the House.

    Senator Karen Keiser (our bill sponsor) and Senator Tim Sheldon both spoke for our bill on the floor. If you have a spare minute, please send them a thank-you email or call their office. (360-786-7664) (360-786-1999)

    ESSB 5731
    Beer & wine specialty shops
    Senate vote on 3rd Reading & Final Passage

    Yeas: 43 Nays: 4 Absent: 0 Excused: 2

    Voting Yea: Senator Angel, Bailey, Becker, Benton, Billig, Braun, Brown, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Dammeier, Dansel, Ericksen, Fain, Fraser, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hatfield, Hewitt, Hill, Hobbs, Holmquist Newbry, Honeyford, Keiser, King, Kline, Kohl-Welles, Liias, Litzow, McAuliffe, McCoy, Mullet, Nelson, O’Ban, Parlette, Pedersen, Ranker, Rivers, Roach, Rolfes, Schoesler, Sheldon, Tom

    Voting Nay: Senator Darneille, Hargrove, Padden, Pearson


    Excused: Senator Baumgartner, Eide


    Karen Rogers

  3. I was in Seattle last week primarily because of several small specialty stores, yours included. I sent my email pointing out that was my purpose in traveling to the state. I would be happy to send the same letter when the bill gets to the House.

    My wife and I drove about 200 miles from Federal Way up beyond Edmonds on a couple trips around the area just because of stores like yours (and a couple wineries). I am not a fan of the Walmartization of everything, when the small craft producers are getting wiped out. “If you can’t deliver a zillion units overnight, you are not worthy.” That’s not a way to promote quality and products that people actually care about.


    PS I hope you got to try the beer from St Louis I dropped off. Our Kansas City beers were already in your store.

    1. Steve, thank you! Not just for the beer (which I will be sharing with staff), but also for your support.

      Today I went to the Washington State Capitol to testify on behalf of SSB 5731 before the State Government & Accountability Committee. I was SO NERVOUS! Of course, I forgot half of what I wanted to say because I’m sitting there in front of our State Representatives, so nervous, despite my husband’s reassurance of “remember, they work for you.”

      Despite the fact that the Washington State Senate passed SSB 5731 OVERWHELMINGLY in support of small business, MY Representative who chairs the committee of which I testified before, MY Representative refused to put this to a vote. He is clearly ANTI-SMALL BUSINESS by this action.

      He won’t let it out of committee. Why? Because he says, “It’s not Prime Time!” WTH!? So because the news isn’t all over this he’s not even going to let it make progress in the house? Or is he getting his pockets lined by the corporate liquor lobbyists? I’m not sure what’s going on, but we need as much support as we can get… phone calls, emails, a total barrage on Rep. Hurst.

      Rep. Christopher Hurst
      (360) 786-7866

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